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article imageBoko Haram says Nigerian military offensive is failing (Video)

By JohnThomas Didymus     May 30, 2013 in World
Maiduguri - Abubakar Shekau, leader of the militant Islamic sect Boko Haram, has said in a video released to AFP on Tuesday, that Boko Haram is scoring victories against the Nigerian Army. He said Nigerian troops were fleeing before his fighters "like rabbits."
He called on his "brothers" in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq to join Boko Haram in the fight against the Nigerian government.
The video represents the first time that Shekau has made a public statement since the Nigerian military commenced military offensive in May 15 after President Goodluck Jonathan declared emergency rule in the three northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, considered the strongholds of the Islamic insurgents.
The video (see excerpts above) shows Shekau seated, dressed in camouflage and turban, with an AK-47 rifle at his side, as usual. AFP reports that it is not possible to determine his location in the video.
Shekau's claim that Nigerian Army troops were retreating before Boko Haram militants contradicts claims by Nigerian Army officials that its troops have met with little resistance and that they have destroyed major Boko Haram training camps in Borno and arrested several rebel militants. But it has not been possible to independently confirm details of claims of success by Nigerian Army officials either. The Nigerian authorities have restricted access to remote locations and have cut local mobile phone service.
However, the Nigerian Army claims it has recaptured five local councils from the insurgents and about 120 suspected militants. The Punch reports that in its latest statement, the Nigerian military said it captured 25 insurgents and killed three. It identified one of the dead militants as "Abba," a close associate of Shekau.
Shekau, however, insisted that only seven Boko Haram insurgents have been killed since the offensive began.
The statement by the Nigerian authorities said: “Troops of the special forces have intercepted messages sent to fleeing insurgents urging them not to give up but fight to the end. The attempt by some of them to heed the call was foiled during the weekend as they were trailed to some settlements and towns towards the border where they plan to regroup.”
In the video, Shekau called to foreign jihadists to come to Boko Haram's assistance. Gesticulating avidly while speaking in a mix of Arabic and Hausa language peculiar to the region, he said, according to Reuters: "My fellow brethren from all over the world I assure you that we are strong, hail and hearty since they launched this assault on us following the state of emergency declaration. When they launch any attack on us you see soldiers fleeing and throwing away their weapons like a rabbit that is been hunted down."
He called on jihadists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq to come to Boko Haram's assistance. He said: "We call to us our brethren in these countries I mentioned. Oh! Our brethren, come to us.”
Part of the video shows corpses in military uniforms, charred remains of armored vehicles and weapons displayed as evidence of losses sustained by the Nigerian Army. He said the group will continue to kidnap women and children until the Nigerian authorities set free "our women and children and our brethren."
That scene, shot in terrain typical of the sandy arid plains of northeast Nigeria on the borders of Chad, Niger and Northern Cameroon, shows masked men in military uniforms armed with ground-to-air rocket launchers and rocket-propelled grenades, according to Reuters.
He said that the choice for Boko Haram in the struggle for an Islamic state in Nigeria was victory or "martyrdom."
In what the Nigerian authorities have touted a "peace gesture," but which appears to be part of efforts to encourage defection among Bokom Haram fighters, the Nigerian government said it will releases some Boko Haram suspects held in its custody, including women and children.
Shekau's appeal to his brothers in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq highlights concerns that foreign involvement could escalate the conflict. Boko Haram would be more anxious than ever to further strengthen ties with international jihadist groups and receive military and financial assistance from them.
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